Marhaba’s recent food adventure took us to the Philippine Islands (in flavour at least) and had us on a merry culinary discovery! 

The entry to Seasonal Tastes at The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa is garbed in colours with their friendly staff giving everyone a warm welcome. The place smelled wonderful, much like a kitchen with lots of surprises. Chef Michelle Adrillana is the star of the night, with her take on Filipino food once again making its way to Doha. She was assisted by Chef Jeff Robregado of the Pinoy Young Chefs Club.

For someone so young, Chef Michelle seemed well versed in the kitchen. The Filipino staples on showcase – Kare-Kare (oxtail stew in peanut sauce), Bulalo (beef shank soup), and Pancit Guisado (stir-fried rice noodles) – would make one think of how the Philippines define flavour, with each dish seemingly trying to capture not just the right taste, but the right combination.

Food, Food and More Food

The festival offers a reasonable variety of traditional Philippine dishes with beef, duck, chicken and lots of vegetables. Dessert includes that wonderful bowl of milk-flavoured shaved ice and everything sweet underneath, plus vanilla ice cream on top. Chef Michelle still offers the popular fried balls on stick for Filipino street-food fanatics.

It was very tempting to try everything but we decided to settle with the most popular dishes.

Bulalo, a popular soup dish in the Philippines made by cooking beef shanks and marrow bones until the collagen and fat has melted into the broth. The beef shank looked sinful enough, and the rich, flavourful soup somehow kicked up the heartbeat, instead of slowing it down (as most normal soups do).

Kare-Kare smelled of peanut, the kind that stays in your head long after you’ve had several servings of the dish. It comes with a salty shrimp paste that is in itself, a class of its own. The image of an actual ox tail as food is not at all appealing, but this dish won all arguments against that, hands down!

If you’re opting to eat ‘healthy’, you can try Pinakbet, a vegetable dish flavoured with fish paste. Or choose from a selection of salads or ensalada.

There is also the duck adobo, the squid cooked in coconut milk, and the rice dish, that is a cross between a really flavourful fried rice and the popular Spanish dish, Paella. We would have tried more but we had our limits.

Filipino Character

Filipino food is distinctly different from other Asian cuisine, although it does carry its Chinese heritage proudly in its dishes. The Spanish connection is also obvious, given the rich sauce of its meaty dishes. But the Filipino character of the food, that distinct badge that separates it from the other more worldly cuisine, is the comfort that seems to emanate from each individual dish. Be sure to bring your family and friends when you come for the festival, these dishes are created and made to be shared.

The Culinary Journey Around the Philippines is ongoing at The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa until 5 May, in cooperation with the Philippine Embassy. Buffet available at QAR160 per person, all Filipino nationals get a 20% discount upon presentation of their passport or QID.  For reservations and more information, you can call 3359 8514 or you can send an email to [email protected].

Check out Marhaba Events Calendar

Philippine Food Festival 2


Author: Lalaine Turqueza

Photos: Buenafotos

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